Ahhh summer. With the thwack and crack of balls on Wimbledon’s center court, I feel we’re finally, definitively in it.
A lot of people absolutely adore summer. They love the time, the weather, the being outdoors…but I have to say, I feel about summer the way that people feel about Christmas: that it’s something for other people and that I don’t feel a part of it.
Heresy, I know.
I’m an urban creature, more at home with concrete, and monotone and subtlety, not the over-ripe, overly accessible colors associated with summer. To me things are pretty but not beautiful. Give me the subtle greys, whites, dark charcoals. Then I’m interested.
Maybe this is why I dodged the happy summer bullet and live in the SF Bay Area, where fog sits around till noon so many days from June to August and we’re always wearing sweaters and coats, even in July.
For the most part, summer to me is a just a period of a few months where I have to watch people wear fewer clothes than they really should and it’s amateur hour at the airport.
But as I was writing this post, I realized that I have had good summer memories. There was that time when driving around the French Riviera. Highlight? The utterly revelatory experience of tasting a caprese sandwich the likes of which I’d never tasted before: the freshness of the basil, the locally grown tomatoes, the olive oil, the fresh mozzarella (not that utterly tasteless white rubbery thing that passes for mozzarella in much of this country).
There was the impromptu late summer picnic in Napa with some work colleagues over from England. We shared a magnum of red from the local vineyard, bread and prosciutto from Oakville Grocery, and a tapenade from the winery gift shop. We stayed there till the sun began to set over the valley feeling buzzed, all aware of the unexpectedness of four strangers coming together to share a moment in time.
Then there was that massive hike last summer in Tahoe – done probably too soon after some surgery I’d had, and more seriously without enough food or water. The hike was a ass-kicking but beautiful, and most importantly, it was followed by that restorative of champions, a root beer float. Nothing ever tasted so good in my life.
Sense a common theme? It’s obviously about the food (and drink), the pure sensuality of flavor and taste. The basil, the absurdly good tomatoes, the unctuousness of the peaches, the char of the grill, set off by the lemons, the herbs, the wine…not sure where the root beer float comes in but then that’s were serendipity has to come into it. It is about pleasure. And I while I just clocked it, I don’t think I really appreciated it at the time.
Here’s someone who feels the same way I do, clearly, but who’s figured out the appreciation aspect.. My friend Lee Havlicek perfectly captured what is so great about summer for those of us who are all about friends and food.
“Yes, there’s life and work and things to be done, shockingly, besides making exquisite meals to share, but we try, at the very least, to build our weekends around these things: Taking our time to cook, filling our kitchen and table with incredible people and our bellies with incredible foods, spending far longer than we assumed but just as long as we hoped talking, eating, and rushing absolutely nowhere.” Read more here (and cook the luscious recipe)
The real magic of summer isn’t dependent on weather or on holidays. It’s just depends on seizing the moments, choosing not to rush. It’s space in your head and in your heart. It’s savoring pleasure, every moment.
Enjoy the summer. Even I’m learning to, these days.